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Public Statements

Obama 's Church Sermon to Black Dads: Grow Up

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Date:
Location: Chicago, IL


Obama 's church sermon to black dads: Grow up
Monday, June 20, 2005

CHICAGO TRIBUNE
BY LIAM FORD

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama on Sunday exhorted fathers in the black community to earn the love and respect of their children by acting like "full-grown" men and living their values.

In a half-hour sermon delivered as the Father's Day message at Christ Universal Temple, 11901 S. Ashland Ave., Obama said fathers should have high expectations for themselves if they wish their sons and daughters to be successful.

"If we are going to pass on high expectations to our children, we've got to have high expectations for ourselves," Obama said to applause from a capacity crowd of about 4,000 people.

"Don't settle for just what you've got," Obama said. "You can shoot high."

Obama said black fathers should set an example of excellence for their children, take responsibility for their own actions, foster education and live their values, and promote kindness and hope in their children.

"There are a lot of folks, a lot of brothers, walking around, and they look like men," Obama said, drawing laughter from the congregation. "And they're tall, and they've got whiskers - they might even have sired a child. But it's not clear to me that they're full-grown men."

Citing St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, Obama said too many fathers "engage in childish things, who are more concerned about what they want than what's good for other people."

Obama - who later said his daughters, ages 6 and 3, had given him breakfast in bed Sunday morning "with a little help from my wife" - said fathers should be "taking responsibility for our actions."

"We have not chosen the circumstances in which we were born, but we can determine the circumstances in which we live," he said.

Obama drew the most thunderous applause of his speech when he said eighth-grade graduations are sometimes overvalued.

"They've got to get out of high school, then they've got to go to college, then they've got to get a graduate degree," said Obama , whose sermon was followed by a tribute to fathers by the church's children's choir.

Fathers have to be involved with their children's lives to pass on their values, Obama said.

If "every weekend ... when you get home you go down to the basement and you're watching television, then you've got issues of how important, really, is your family," he said.

"Sometimes when we think about our history ... it's hard to feel hopeful," Obama said. But "the greatest gift that we can pass on to our children is understanding that God is looking after us in this difficult journey."

In answer to questions from reporters after the service, Obama said he was glad to see concrete information about the proportion of minority drivers being stopped by Chicago police, statistics released last week as a result of state legislation he helped sponsor while in the state Senate.

Obama said he was particularly concerned that "searching vehicles after a stop seemed to be disproportionately targeted at African Americans."

Obama said he was "glad the city took it seriously. I hope other jurisdictions across the state take it seriously."

Obama also said he believes that scandals in Mayor Richard Daley's administration are an outgrowth of "problems that aren't attended to."

But "I think (Daley)'s now trying to attend (to) them ... And my hope would be that the confidence of taxpayers here in the city will be restored in the months and years to come."

http://obama.senate.gov/news/050620-obama_s_church_sermon_to_black_dads_grow_up/index.html

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